New Delhi: Middle-order batsman Deepak Hooda, who starred for Rajasthan Royals in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match against Delhi Daredevils on Sunday, credited the team management and mentor Rahul Dravid for his match-winning knock.
In reply to Daredevils' 184/3, Royals were struggling at 78/4 in the 11th over when Hooda joined opener Ajinkya Rahane in the middle. Rahane scored 47.
The Indian Under-19 World Cupper played a very crucial innings of 54 in just 24 deliveries. His knock included four sixes and three fours and that pulled Royals into contention.
"Coming in at that position, I just tried to play natural cricket. Rahane told me to first get a partnership before going for big shots and I did exactly that," the Baroda batsman told reporters.
"I want to thank the team management. Dravid told me to hang in there till the last and to believe yourself and it helped me a lot.
Rahane and Hooda forged a 52-run partnership for the fifth wicket and took the Royals close to victory.
Before getting dismissed in the first ball of the 19th over, Hooda, 19, had already put his team in strong position at 166/6.
Talking about his progress to IPL cricket, he said: "I have improved my batting over the last two years since the Under-19 World Cup. My role was to play aggressive shots in the pre-IPL camp and the team coach Paddy Upton supported me well."
He is also contributing with the ball in the coming matches.